The European mining industry has a long tradition, yet today it is also among the continent's most modern and most innovative industrial sectors. Discovering new deposits, mining and ore dressing all require major emphasis on research and development. Mining exploration, extraction and beneficiation are now supported by high-level technologies. The industry also promotes advancements in the areas of environmental, health and safety protection.
The European mining industry is fundamental for the continent's economic well-being. Consumption of aggregates, industrial minerals and metals in Europe has grown rapidly over the past decade. Today, Europe is almost self-sufficient in producing many industrial minerals and aggregates. However, it is a significant net-importer of most metals and metal ores.
Europe is rich in natural resources and the extraction and supply of minerals continue to play a crucial role in the European economy and society as it has done for thousands of years. Minerals are used in everyday life, as construction materials (crushed rock, sand and gravel) for infrastructure, buildings, and roads, and for industrial purposes (e.g. metals, lime, kaolin, silica sand, talc) in the production of steel, cars, computers, medicines, human and animal foodstuffs and fertilizers, to name just a few key applications.
Mining is one of the oldest industries on Earth. With the exception of agriculture, mining is the only method of obtaining the raw materials we need to maintain our way of life.